- Mon, Dec 3, 2007
Holiday Greetings from Chilly Nappanee….
By now you have probably heard of the F3 Tornado that struck the peaceful little hamlet of Nappanee on October 18. Through God's grace and mercy Newmar Corporation and its campus was spared any damage as the track of the tornado took it through the south and east sides of town. Others weren't as fortunate as we were, however, as over 250 homes and businesses suffered varying degrees of damage, ranging from peeled roof shingles to total and complete destruction. Touring the countryside the following morning was like driving through a war zone. The devastation was beyond anything you can comprehend unless you've been through one, and watching the sunrise over the destruction left you with the sense that you had indeed seen a miracle happen; no serious injuries occurred, and there were no fatalities.
One of the things you learn from an episode like this is the amazing power of the human spirit, and how people come together to help one another in their times of need. The love and assistance that poured into this small Midwestern town in the wake of the storm was overwhelming. The community rallied, and is rebuilding feverishly.
One other observation you can't help but notice is the value of quality construction. Seeing what happened in Nappanee reminded me of all those terrible pictures that came out after a tornado snaked its way through portions of Kissimmee, Florida just after midnight in February of 1998. With a confined damage path of just over 100 yards in width, that F3 tornado wreaked havoc as it passed through the Ponderosa RV park. Newmar Kountry Klub members John and Loraine Bettencourt rode that tornado out in their unit, later attributing the structural integrity of their unit to playing a part in their survival. They were among the fortunate souls that night. Seven others in that park were not so lucky. In all, 42 people lost their lives in that series of storms and tornados, and another 250+ were injured. All of which makes the "Miracle in Nappanee" even more amazing.
While Newmar's facilities were not damaged, many of our employees suffered personal loss and destruction at their homes. Amazingly, the very next morning the community was reaching out to those who needed it. People came together like never before, and three days after the storm, in an organized event, thousands descended on Nappanee from the surrounding communities like worker bees. In fact, so many showed up that they turned many away. In that one day the vast majority of the damage done had been cleaned up so that the process of rebuilding could begin.
Newmar employees didn't wait for the organized cleaning days; they went into action within hours of the passing of the storm to help their friends and fellow employees. They gave time and labor, opened their wallets and hearts, and prayed ceaselessly. If ever there was a tribute to the character of a company's employees, this was it.
Now most of the debris is gone, and re-construction is well under way. The wounds from this event will last for generations for those who were affected, either directly or indirectly. The knowledge that God watched over us that October evening, just as he did John and Lorraine Bettencourt in Florida almost ten years ago, is comforting. While we will all keep a closer watch on the sky when adverse weather threatens, there is reassurance in knowing we are all part of the extended Newmar family and no matter the calamity, we will face it together as one. That is what makes us what we are. We are Newmar.
From the Newmar Family to yours, we wish you the peace, love, and joy this Holiday season brings as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers, and rejoice with you in celebrating the miracle we have witnessed, and look forward to a better year in 2008!